Tuesday, November 3, 2009

International Theatre Critics Association Launches a Web Journal

The International Theatre Critics Association (IATC) has founded a new web journal, called Critical Stages, which debuted in November at www.criticalstages.org.

Published in English and French, the biennial web journal is a collaborative and international effort whose primary aim is to provide an outlet for articles about the art of criticism in the theatre.

Critical Stages contains not only theatre criticism but also interviews and other articles about theatre seen from a critic's point of view.

Says Critical Stages publisher Yun-Cheol Kim, who is also the president of IATC, "There are abundant reasons and motivations for creating the journal, among which two are the most important. First, the theatre is in a real crisis. There is no time in history when the theatre has lost its social function as much as it has in our time. In Europe, people have already begun to speak of the death, not the crisis, of the theatre. In response, a journal on theatre criticism can help make theatre matter in society."

Kim continues: "Second, theatre criticism itself is in critical condition. A journal such as this one may help theatre criticism to recover its vitality, so it can serve the theatre arts and the society. I firmly believe that the most important function of theatre criticism is, and should remain, to generate interest in the theatre arts in society."

The inaugural issue delves into the Polish guru Jerzy Grotowski; the dramatist Eugene Ionesco; and the first IATC Thalia Prize winner, the playwright/critic Eric Bentley. It also contains a penetrating review of the Swedish dramatist Lars Noren's Diary as well as performances in various countries.

The contributors in the first issue cover countries from all continents: South Korea, India, Japan, Israel, France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Greece, Finland, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Cuba and South Africa.

The editor-in-chief is Maria Helena Serodio, an academic and critic from Portugal.  The co-editors are Lissa Tyler Renaud (English language), a theatre director and scholar from the United States; and Michel Vais (French language), a critic from Quebec, Canada.

In addition to Yun-Cheol Kim, the members of the editorial board of Critical Stages consist of Randy Gener, a critic and editor from the United States; Herve Guay, an academic and critic from Quebec, Canada; Temple Hauptfleisch, a critic from South Africa; Matti Linnavuori, a critic from Finland; Tomasz Milkowski, a critic from Poland; Manabu Noda, an academic and critic from Japan; Rodolfo Obregon, a critic from Mexico; Ludmila Patlanjoglu, an academic and critic from Romania; Patrice Pavis, a theoretician from France; Maria Shevtsova, an academic from the United Kingdom; Don Rubin, an academic and critic from Canada; Halima Tahan, a critic from Argentina.

IATC, established in 1956, operates through its national sections in some 50 countries.   [Gener]

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nominations Are Now Open for the IATC Thalia Prize 2010

In 2006, the IATC Thalia Prize went to Eric Bentley, the world-renowned U.S. playwright, singer and critic who wrote such plays as Lord Alfred's Lover and such path-finding books as The Playwright as Thinker, Bentley on Brecht and The Life of the Drama.

Two years later, in 2008, the prestigious Thalia Prize went to Jean-Pierre Sarrazac, the French playwright, director and critic who was the first to identify the influential notion of the post-dramatic theatre.

It is now time to choose the next winner from anywhere in the world.  Who would you like to nominate for the third IATC Thalia Prize? The Executive Committee of the International Association of Theatre Critics has issued an open call for nomination from each IATC national section.

The deadline is for nominations is December 1, 2009.  The winner who will take home the IATC Thalia Prize (it takes the form of a cane, see photo below) will be chosen on January 30, 2010.

Here are the official rules and instructions:

The Thalia Prize is normally awarded by the International Association of Theatre Critics at each of its biennial congresses to a scholar, theatre critic or theatre practitioner whose writings have significantly influenced critical thinking about the art of theatre.  Previous winners are Eric Bentley (US, 2006) and Jean-Pierre Sarrazac (France, 2008).

The prize includes a specially designed theatrical memento contributed by the Romanian national Section and the Craiova Shakespeare Foundation, and full expenses to attend the award ceremonies wherever they take place. Previous awards have been presented at IATC Congresses in Seoul, Korea and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Each IATC Section is encouraged to nominate Thalia candidates from anywhere in the world.
The ultimate winner will normally be well-known in at least one geographical or linguistic region of the world and at least modestly known in a second region. To ensure this, each nominating national IATC Section is encouraged to obtain a seconder from another geographical or linguistic region. Candidates with seconders will be given primary consideration.

Each national IATC Section may nominate two candidates but if a Section chooses to submit a second nomination, that person must come from another country. A Section may not second more than two candidates. 

All nominations will be vetted by the IATC Executive Committee to ensure these rules have been met. The Excom will vote on a winner at a meeting or by e-mail at least three months prior to the actual presentation of the award. The Executive Committee may not add candidates to the list but may decline to give the award in any given year for lack of suitable nominees. The Excom’s decision shall be final and not subject to further discussion.

To submit a nominee, a national Section must send a letter or an e-mail to the IATC President, copied to the IATC Secretary General, that includes a justification for each nomination of up to 300 words. This must include the major work or works of the writer along with brief biographical details and a statement of why this person is deserving of the Thalia. Verbal nominations will not be accepted.  In countries where there is more than one recognized national group, each one may submit one nominee without the agreement of the other one(s). E-mail and/or telephone contact information for the nominee must be part of the nomination letter.

Ideally, the laureate will be available to attend the award ceremonies. The IATC will cover economy air and hotel costs to ensure such participation. Should they be unable to come to the award ceremony, the nominee must be willing to send a speech of acceptance and/or a lecture which will be read publicly on that occasion. Excom will handle these details in association with the Section in the winner’s home country.

Sections may nominate a candidate as many times as they wish as long as they follow procedures for each new nominating period. A list of previous winners (and nominees, from 2010 on) will be circulated with the call for new candidates.

The deadline for receipt of nominees for the 2010 award (to be presented at the 2010 IATC Congress) is December 1st, 2009. A final decision will be made by the Excom by 30 January 2010.

In the South Korean capital of Seoul, ATCA delegates Kerri Allen, Carol Douglass, Glenn Loney, Thalia Prize winner Eric Bentley, Randy Gener and Gwen Orel.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New IATC Reports Now Posted on Website

Dr. Michel Vais, secretary general of the International Association of Theatre Critics, writes from Montreal Canada that the reports of four of the last seminars for new critics, with many photos, are now posted on the official IATC website. To access the reports, please visit this link. You may download the reports about the New Critics Seminars which took place in Santiago de Compostela in Spain (2007); Sfantu Gheorghe in Romania (2009); Wroclaw, Poland (2009); and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Most reports are in English.

In addition, the minutes of the April 2, 2009 meeting of the Executive Committee of IATC, which took place in Wroclaw, Poland, during the Europe Theatre Prize, is now posted on the website. To access this report, please visit this link. You will find valuable information about the past and present activities of the IATC, including seminars, symposia and the Thalia Prize.

Please note that the term "Young Critics" is no longer being used. The current moniker is "New Critics." Information about future New Critics Seminars will be announced as soon as the dates and places become available.  [Gener]

Peter Brook Lands at Ringling International Fest in Sarasota, Oct. 7-11

U.S. critics, especially members of ATCA, are being invited to the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, Florida, taking place October 7 to 11, 2009. Presented by the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in association with the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, this inugural festival hopes to transform Sarasota into a destination for experimental and international theatre work, perhaps akin to the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

One of the festival's top attraction is the U.S. premiere of Peter Brook's Love is My Sin, a theatre work which brings to life Shakespeare's sonnets and performed by his longtime collaborators Michael Pennington and Natasha Parry; Ella Hickson's series of monologes Eight, about ordinary British folk (from a single mother to a young Iraq veteran), which won eight major prizes at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival; a workshop premiere of Elevator Repair Service's adaptation of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway; and a strange theatrics of Meow Meow from Austria in their camp Beyond Glamour: The Absinthe Tour. In addition, there will be dance and music performances from Israeli, Irish and Argentinian choreographers, musicans and artists, as well as local Florida actors and performers.

"We hope that you will be able to attend," says Janet Stapleton, the publicist in charge of giving this festival national exposure. "Each program is scheduled daily and is about one-hour in length, so it is possible to see several shows in one day. All requests must be received by September 15, 2009. Any requests made after this date are subject to availability." Contact Janet Stapleton at 212-633-0016 or via email. [Randy Gener]

Dutch's New Island Festival Invades Governors Island in New York

Direct from Holland, the New Island Festival will provide a host of Dutch-made theatrical shows, art installations and music acts that can be enjoyed by people of all ages on New York's Governors Island from September 10-13 and again from September 17-20.
The festival will kick off the fall with provocative theatre, site-specific performances, visual arts, silent DJ sets, performed by Dutch performers. More than 150 Dutch artists will perform during the festival. The festival is part of NY400, which celebrates the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage from Amsterdam to New York harbor, and commemorates 400 years of friendship between the Netherlands and the United States.
New Island Festival is a merging of the Oerol and De Parade festivals from Holland. Some featured events are the U.S. premiere of Ivo van Hove's The Human Voice; a site-specific performance and dinner called Orfeo; an outdoor music/film piece, LAN, from a Fryslan composer; Silent Disco, in which people dance disco using headseats; and four installation art groups, all formerly held residencies at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center in Long Island, performing in the houses on Colonel's Row on Governors Island.

Two member of the interdisciplinary group SLeM, Bruno Doeden and Theo Heldens, also invites members of ATCA to visit the group's Wind Nomads, a landscape-theatre project featuring two-sided paintings perched on metal pipes and installed on Governors Island.

Governors Island is easily accessible via a free and short ferry ride. The cost is only $35 for a passport, which allows visitors to see everything. [Gener]

Free Theatre of Belarus Visits Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles

The Free Theater of Belarus is returning to the United States.

This dissident independent company from Minsk will perform Generation Jeans on September 15 and Discover Love on September 16 in Washington, D.C. In addition, the troupe will teach at CalArts from September 18 to October 3. At REDCAT Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre in Los Angeles, Discover Love will perform October 1 to 3. And on September 24 in San Diego, there is a conference entitled "Bearing Exquisite Witness" in which Discover Love will be the opening-night event. Here is the link.

September 16 is the 10th year anniversary of the kidnapping and murder of Anatoly Krasovskiy and Victor Gonchar. Krasovskiy supported the Belarusian opposition financially, and Gonchar was vice-speaker of the Belarusian parliament. Using Discover Love, a play about the story of Anatoly and his wife Irina, Free Theatre wishes to attact media attention to the case of enforced disappearances in Belarus.
Those who might like to become acquainted with the situation of the Belarus Free Theatre as dissident artists in the former Soviet country might visit the Free Theater's website. You may also read Randy Gener's essay on the Free Theater which was published in the May/June 2009 international-theatre edition of American Theatre magazine, which is devoted to the post-Soviet theatre of several countries in Eastern and Central Europe. The essay is called "Fomenting a Denim Revolution: The guerilla artists of Belarus Free Theatre perform underground while arguing openly for regime change." [Gener]

Croatia Invites Critics for National Theatre Showcase in November

As a member of the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), American Theatre senior editor Randy Gener would like to pass along information about the 5th Croatian Theatre Showcase which will be held in Zagreb, Croatia, from November 5 to 9, 2009.

This showcase is intended to show foreign theatre producers, directors, critics, festival directors and other interested theatre parties the best plays of Croatian theatre which is still largely unknown and absent on the European theatre map. The play selections were made by Zeljka Turcinovic, president of the Croatian center of the ITI; and Tajana Gasparovic, Croatian ITI programme coordinators. Both are dramaturge.

If you can pay for your own plane fare to Croatia, the Croatian ITI will cover the expenses of your stay (hotel, food, performancees, tickets). Unfortunately, the Croatian ITI cannot finance your trip to Croatia, because they cannot afford it. The contact person is Tajana Gasparovica at hc-iti [at] zg.t-com.hr. [Gener]

Call for Papers on Performance and Ecology

Theresa J. May, founder and artistic director of Earth Matters on Stage, and Wendy Arons, director of the Performance and Ecology Public Art Initiative, have issued a call for papers for a jointly edited publication, Essays in Performance and Ecology, to be published in 2011.

The proposed anthology of essays, interviews and artist statements will include papers dealing with ecocritical concerns as they relate to theatre and performance. The editors are especially interested in explorations that employ the science of ecology as a critical framework, or employ environmental history to contextualize performance.

Deadline for abstracts is Oct. 1, 2009. Please visit this link. [Gener]

IATC Book on "Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence" Published

The proceedings of the 2008 IATC World Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria were published in a new book, Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence, edited by Kalina Stefanova and Ian Herbert. The book was financed by the Bulgarian ministry of culture and published in Sofia by St. Kliment Ohridski University Press.

Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence is the first attempt in a book-length form to answer such hot-button questions as: "What makes violence onstage today so sexy? Until recently, violence for its own sake was the prerogative of B-movies and junk mystery novels. What made theatre follow suit? What is the impact of the theatre of violence on the audience? Doesn't it actually make us conformists? Is there still a place for humanism among all the post-modern "isms," including post-human or meta-human theatre? What is the relationship between vilolence and the aesthetics of ugliness?"

Ranging from meditative essays and voices reflecting deliberately provocative and politically incorrect stances, Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence contains challenging critical views from India to Argentina, South Africa to Finland, U.S.A. to Korea, as well as by respected theatremakers such as the Latvian director Alvis Hermanis and the British playwright David Edgar.
One ATCA members is represented in the new volume: Randy Gener's Nathan Award-winning essay "See Under: HOMELAND," a scholarly response on how Israeli and American theatre artists espouse humanism in a world of violence on U.S. stages.
As a bonus, the volume contains the acceptance speech of the second winner of the IATC Thalia Prize, the French critic, director and playwright Jean-Pierre Sarrazac, who can be said to have first identified the notion of a post-dramatic theatre. There is also a post-script: a text delivered to IATC immediately before its Congress by Richard Schechner, the distinguished American director and theatre scholar, on the notion of the five avant-gardes.
Copes were distributed at the Europe Theatre Prize in Wroclaw, Poland, exactly a year after the events it records. If you do not have a copy and wish to use it for teaching, please contact Kalina Stefanova (kalina@eurointegra.com) who may be able to arrange for her Ministry of Culture to send you an author's copy. Anyone else who would like to purchase a copy at the published price of 60 euros, the person to contact is Ian Herbert (ian@herbertknott.com), and he will try to arrange shipment. [Gener]

Notice of a Future IATC Symposium in Tokyo

The Japanese national section of the International Theatre Critics Association has proposed that it would like to host a symposium on Asian theatre and criticism: five nights and six days in Tokyo on November 2010. More details to come. [Gener]

IATC Symposium in Pilsen in the Czech Republic

The International Theatre Critics Association is holding a symposium in the city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic in September fromn September 9 to 14. Titled "20 Years LAter or Metamorphosis of Theatre and its Reflection since 1989," the symposium commemorates the forthcoming anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the Iron Curtain.

The description reads: "The face of the world has been dramatically changing ever since, and so have its stages on either side of the former 'curtain.' Or have they? What have been the most conspicuous gains and losses? Is there still a distinct Eastern/Central European theatre style, and if so what is it and why? Has it influenced Western stages? Or has the process been only one-way: i.e., West-East and only on a management and structural level at that? How has the nature of the theatre-audience relationship changed in Eastern Europe? Have there been special developments in that respect in the rest of the world? What about the plight of the written drama in Eastern/Central Europe: Has there been a give-and-take on par with the West? Or are the bulk of Eastern/Central European playwrights still behind a curtain and, if so, why? Has there been any substantial change in our reflection on theatre? Has education in theatre criticism, a unique trademark of the region's theatre landscape, turned out to be a mission impossible or, on the contrary, is it about to become a possible export?"

Larry Devine of ATCA's international committee will be the U.S. delegate in attendance at the Executive Committee meeting of the International Theatre Critics Association. [Gener]